German Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes 07 Jul 2009
The tight and challenging Nurburgring circuit will host this weekends German Grand Prix, round nine of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship. As the home race for Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, BMW, Mercedes and Toyota, the event has special significance for many on the grid. Here the drivers and senior team personnel explain why they cant wait to head for the mountains to tackle the legendary track
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 2nd, 2008 Race - 3rd
On Thursday I will arrive at the Nurburgring and Im looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the F60 again. The layout of this track should suit it better than the fast corners of Silverstone. A lot will depend on how we get the tyres to work and even if we have some new components that Kimi and I will be trying on Friday, it is impossible to say at this stage what we can expect from the weekend. The first half of the season was very hard to predict and I dont see why it should be any different as we go into the second half.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 6th, 2008 Race - 6th
The statistics tell the opposite but I really like racing in Germany, especially at the Nurburgring. I gained the pole four times, but I could never win. Maybe I just wasnt lucky enough here and at Hockenheim. Just look at the last race for example. I gained the pole position, but right after the start there was a downpour and the race was suspended. When it started again I was on third position with a perfect strategy, but then I had to retire due to a hydraulic problem. Realistically this year our objective cant be a win. We still have to make up ground compared to the leaders as far as the performance is concerned. Thats why the team continued to work very hard over the last weeks to bring some new solutions to this race. The track should be better for the F60s characteristics than Silverstone, but well get a clearer picture during Fridays free practice sessions. To be competitive you need a car with good traction, which is very stable while braking. Its always difficult making predictions and promising something to the fans, but for us today a place on the podium is already a good result, considering that weve been there just once this year.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
The Nurburgring circuit features an interesting mixture of very fast, medium fast and slow corners, so finding the correct set-up compromise is a challenge for competitors. Our tyre allocation of the medium and super soft Bridgestones should mean exciting racing. Sectors one and three are more demanding on tyre grip, traction and braking performance than in the middle sector, and it is an exciting undulating circuit. The first corner, which has a variety of racing lines, and the chicane provide good overtaking opportunities. Braking balance is also important here and care has to be taken not to lock-up and flat- spot the tyres when slowing.
"Last time we visited this circuit there was a very exciting wet weather race. The location of the Nurburgring, in the Eifel region of Germany, does often present unpredictable weather. The time of year should mean quite hot weather, but we have previously seen quite cool temperatures there, even in the summer. When we look back on Bridgestone's history at the Nurburgring, we've even seen snow on a DTM race weekend in April, so we never know quite what to expect!"
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 13th, 2008 Race - 10th
The Nurburgring is a very different track to say Silverstone because the average corner speeds are a lot slower. This means car set-up needs to be quite different so we will have a lot of things to test on Friday in order to find the right direction and to get the best out of the car. The FW31 has been very consistent and relatively quick on every track this year so I have high hopes that we can continue our good form. Going to Germany is a bit special for me as its my home Grand Prix and the circuit, together with Hockenheim, is the one that I know the best. Racing in front of your home crowd is a real buzz and the German fans in particular are really passionate about the sport, so therell be a good atmosphere. After a long break since the last race, I cant wait to get back out on track now and getting another good result would make the weekend perfect for me.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 16th, 2008 Race - 14th
Like Silverstone, its a tricky track but, unlike Silverstone, its more of a slow to medium speed circuit with lots of elevation. The weather can be a big factor at the Nurburgring, as can getting temperatures into the tyres as ambient can be quite low. Set-up-wise though it should be fairly straightforward. I havent raced a Formula One car around the Nurburgring, only a GP2 car, but I had a good race then so I hope that experience will help me. Ive also done lots of lap on the sim, so I hope Im well prepared. Its a beautiful part of the world, and very close to Cologne which Ive visited lots of times as I have a lot of Japanese friends at Toyota. The German fans are really passionate, but I think this year they will be more so because of Vettel and Nico who are doing a great job.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 20th, 2008 Race - 16th
The Nurburgring is a great track. There's lots of camber and gradient change and you can overtake in a couple of corners, which is obviously going to be good for us if we are midfield again. This time out I want to get into Q2, which I think should be possible, and then with a better starting position hopefully we'll be able to finish higher. We're so close to the points I want to finish the job now! For the team it would be a huge boost. Everyone works really hard and to be this close is actually a bit frustrating. To get this weight off our shoulders would really set us up for the rest of the season.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 19th, 2008 Race - 15th
Q2 would be very nice and hopefully it would be enough for some points. It's definitely time to get a few. Let's see what the other teams have update-wise as I expect maybe one or two to move a bit to the front and we don't have a major update this time round. But we were pretty strong in Silverstone and I expect to be similar in Germany.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal
As we have had a longer gap between Silverstone and Germany the team back at the factory has been working very hard on consolidating the step forward we made at the last event. We will have a continuation of the new front wing assembly we used in Britain and a new detail on the floor. The upgrades in Silverstone gave us extra performance and we'd all like to convert this into a points-scoring position in Germany. Giancarlo was so close to getting them and as I've said, if we had qualified higher perhaps it could have been our race. I know Adrian was frustrated by the Grand Prix and, with this being his home event, he will want to put on a good show in Germany.
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 5th, 2008 Race - 11th
It's not the most exciting circuit of the year, but it's a good place to go racing as the track has a bit of everything and so the car has to work well in every part of the lap. There are fast corners where you need a lot of downforce and slow corners where braking stability and good traction are important. We have some new developments for this race, which will hopefully improve our situation and allow us to get some points in the race, but we know all the other teams will have improved as well. We also need to work on our starts because if you lose ground on the first lap it's very difficult to recover. The position we are in at the moment is similar to last year, but this time all the teams are much closer together and so it's more difficult to take a big step forward. If you can find three of four tenths with an upgrade, it can make a huge difference and put you five or six places higher up the grid. That's what the team is looking for - that magic component which gives us a big boost, but we know it's not easy to find.
Nelson Piquet, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 17th, 2008 Race - 2nd
Last year the German Grand Prix was at Hockenheim where I finished second behind Lewis Hamilton. However, driving at the Nürburgring won't be a new experience for me as I raced there a couple of times in GP2 and I've always gone well and enjoyed it. I'm definitely looking forward to driving there in my Formula One car The team have been working hard since Silverstone with some upgrades, mainly to the aero which should give us a boost. After Silverstone I said that it was down to me to improve in qualifying and so I'd love to make it into the top ten, which would give me a realistic chance of scoring my first points of the year. You also need to keep an eye on the weather at the Nurburgring as it's near the mountains and conditions change very quickly, a bit like in Spa. We can probably expect at least a couple of showers over the weekend.
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering
It's a circuit with a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners, chicanes and heavy braking areas. We therefore use a very typical set-up as we have to compromise through the speed range, as we do for most circuits. New developments are introduced at every race and we've got a reasonable upgrade for the Nurburgring, which includes a further version of the new front wing that we evaluated at Silverstone. We're also hoping to have some new rear wheel fairings and an updated engine cover as well as some mechanical upgrades.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 4th, 2008 Race - 9th
"The Nurburgring is such a famous track in motorsport and it is fantastic to go there and see the old Nordschleife. The new track is a bit different to say the least but in its own way it is still a challenge. It is actually a track I know really well and I have had some good days there, particularly in 1999 when I finished on the podium for the first time in Formula One. I am always optimistic and it would be great to fight for another podium 10 years on from that. We showed in qualifying at Silverstone that we are competitive, even though the race was frustrating as a result of the start, so I am hopeful for this weekend. It is an important race for the team with the factory only an hour away so that gives me even more motivation to succeed this weekend. I know we will have a lot of support so I hope I can give them the result we all want."
Timo Glock, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 11th, 2008 Race - DNF
"This is my home track and it will be the first time I have raced a Formula One car there so I am really excited. Obviously the modern Nurburgring is nothing like the old Nordschleife, which is just an incredible circuit. I drove a Toyota Auris around it recently and it's so much fun but completely different from a modern Formula One circuit. I enjoy the modern NUrburgring and it is a track I am really familiar with after growing up in German racing. In fact, the first Formula One race I attended was at the Nurburgring in 2000 when I was competing in one of the support races so it will be a special feeling for me this weekend. It's surprising we are already at the halfway point of the season - it has gone so quickly. I've had some good races so far and it has been nice to be battling at the front quite often. This weekend is another chance to do that and I can't wait."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"The Nurburgring does not place any specific demand on a Formula One car; it requires an average aero efficiency level with average tyre severity and doesn't put any particular strain on brakes, suspension or engine. The main concern is with the weather and consequently with tyre warm-up because the track is close to the mountains and if you are unlucky you can experience cool temperatures and rain. We haven't raced at the Nurburgring since 2007 but the lay-out hasn't changed since then so our database is still valid, although obviously we have to make adjustments to take into account the aerodynamic changes and slick tyres. The British Grand Prix didn't go as well as expected but our qualifying performance was encouraging, as was Timo's pace out of traffic in the race, and we aim to be stronger this weekend."
Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 14th, 2008 Race - 17th
"The Nurburgring is a tricky circuit but there are two key characteristics which should be good for our car. It is a relatively slow circuit with a lot of medium-speed corners which are one of the strengths of the BGP001. The Nurburgring is also one of the heaviest braking circuits on the calendar so you need a car which will be good through the four heavy braking zones. With the extra week's break, everyone at the factory and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines has been working extremely hard in preparation for the German Grand Prix to get the best package for the race and we're looking forward to showing what the car can do at the Nurburgring after a disappointing weekend by our standards at the British Grand Prix. My last stint at Silverstone showed that the pace of the car is really competitive so we're confident that we can turn it around at this race. I'm sure we will see a really intense fight with our closest competitors and hopefully a great race for the fans."
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 18th, 2008 Race - DNF
"I have always enjoyed racing at the Nurburgring and it provides a good challenge for the drivers. The layout and flow is nice which allows you to get into a rhythm and there are some interesting undulations and bumps to look out for. I won the race here back in 2002 so the circuit always holds some good memories for me. The weather can be a little unpredictable due to its location right in the Eifel Mountains but we'll be hoping for some warmer temperatures than we saw at Silverstone for the last race. The first corner here is really important to set yourself up for a good lap and it's a bumpy run down from the start line. You have to get your approach absolutely right and position yourself well for a good exit. However it is also one of the best overtaking opportunities if the cars around you slide straight on so you need to be alert to take advantage of any opportunities. Many of the corners at the Nurburgring are off-camber so getting the correct line for your corner entry is important all round the lap. We haven't raced here for a couple of years so it will be interesting to see how the circuit feels in a good car."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal
The team is looking forward to returning to the race track at the German Grand Prix next weekend and the Nurburgring should be a good circuit for our car and play to its strengths. We have several new aerodynamic parts from Silverstone which were not used in qualifying and the race due to the issues that we faced there, along with additional improvements scheduled for the Nurburgring, which should position us well going into the weekend. Whilst coming away with third and sixth placed finishes from Silverstone was still a good outcome from our home Grand Prix, we would be the first to admit that the result did not meet our expectations. However we have always said that we would have a fight on our hands to maintain our excellent run of results at the start of the season and everyone at the factory and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth is looking forward to that challenge. As a team, we have a good history of going away from a race, thinking about the outcome, identifying where we need to make improvements and then coming back stronger. As the home Grand Prix for Mercedes-Benz, we will be hoping to come away from the race in Germany next weekend with a successful result."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 1st, 2008 Race - 1st
The Nurburgring a fantastic circuit, a little older than a lot of the current tracks we currently visit and with quite a different feel to what were used to: its fast and flowing with some good spots for overtaking. And its in a fantastic part of the world too; deep in the forests of western Germany, where the fans seem to live and breathe Formula One. Its always an amazing party atmosphere whenever we race in Germany. While we arent expecting any major upgrades for this weekend, Im still looking forward to the race. Its an honour to be part of the Silver Arrows and, while our results havent recently shown it, were still pushing incredibly hard and are all hopeful of moving closer to the front before the end of this difficult season.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 3rd, 2008 Race - 5th
The Nurburgring is a great circuit. Its got a variety of different corners - some quite tricky, technical sections that need a good flowing rhythm and some faster bends, where the car needs to be well set up. Cresting the rise through the uphill esses after the hairpin just feels fantastic in a Formula One car. Coming to Germany is the perfect time to pay tribute to the efforts of everyone at Mercedes-Benz. Their engines are probably the most powerful and most reliable in the sport and their KERS is also fantastic. Mercedes-Benz has played such a big role in the success of our team, so Im really hoping to have a strong race in front of all our supportive fans at our second home race of the season. Myself, Lewis and the rest of the team are working hard to develop this car - its a long process, but we are all pulling together and were hopeful of making some further steps soon.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
The Santander German Grand Prix is our teams second home race of the year. Having had such a fantastic and close relationship with Mercedes-Benz for 15 years means we meet many old friends in Germany and we really enjoy the fantastic support we receive not only from the many thousands of Mercedes-Benz employees who attend the race, but also from the hugely vocal crowd that always plays such a large part in making the atmosphere at a German racetrack so unique. While we cant expect to match our previous record in Germany, where weve won the race for the past two seasons, were still pushing hard to develop MP4-24 into a more competitive proposition. Make no mistake, were hugely proud of having the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star on the front of our cars - and nothing would make us prouder than getting back to the front again as soon as we possibly can.
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President
We finished the previous Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 2007 as winners, as well as last years Santander German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. This year, we will start without a chance of winning, because our work of improving the car did not bring the desired success. Therefore, we have to continue working extremely hard. At the Nurburgring, the Silver Arrows were born and we will commemorate their 75th anniversary with a parade on the racetrack and an exhibition at the paddock entrance to present their unique history to every Nurburgring visitor as well as to the worlds TV viewers.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 12th, 2008 Race - 4th
It goes without saying that our verdict on the season at the half-way point is anything but positive. Especially when you compare our results so far with our aims going into the season. Of course I hope we will make improvements, and thats what everybody in the team is working to achieve. A lot of fans and fan club members traditionally come to my home race. That is something I really enjoy and it gives me an extra shot of motivation. I will once again be lining up for my home race with a special helmet design. This year it has been created by a fan on my website, and he will present me with the helmet before the start of practice on Friday. I have many happy memories of the Nurburgring. I went there a lot with my parents when I was a child and the Ring is only an hour away from my home town of Monchengladbach. In winter we went sledging on the Hohe Acht slopes, I learnt to ride a bicycle at the Nurburgring and this was also where I sat in a kart for the first time - with a tyre and a blanket wedged behind my back so that I could reach the pedals.
Since then Ive competed in races at the Ring in Formula Ford, Formula Three and Formula 3000 and celebrated many victories there. My best Nurburgring result in Formula One was in 2005 when I took pole position and finished second in the race itself. For me, the Nordschleife is the most sensational race track in the world. In April 2007 I drove our Formula One car on the circuit, which was just brilliant! It was amazing to turn off the Grand Prix course onto the Nordschleife and drive along this huge race track all alone in front of all those people.
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 7th, 2008 Race - 7th
The Nurburgring is our home race. Even though this season has not gone well for us so far, there will be a lot of BMW Sauber F1 Team fans there crossing their fingers for us. This is just the right time to put in a strong performance and record a good result. However, I have to admit that the track itself is not one of my favourites. Having said that, it does have a big variety of corners and also opportunities to overtake. The best of these is in the first corner, where you can take various different lines. So I expect well see more passing moves again at the Nurburgring and enjoy an exciting race.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
Going into the German Grand Prix, we cannot be happy with the season so far. After three successful years, this recent period has been the first set-back for our team - and is one we will overcome. After all, this is the same team in Munich and Hinwil that has delivered continuous improvements since the team was founded. We are all absolutely determined to start moving forwards again and I expect us to experience an upturn in form. It is certainly not easy to make up lost ground without the chance to do any testing, but that is what were aiming to do. We are bringing a series of mechanical improvements to the Eifel mountains, as well as a further developed version of our double-decker diffuser.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
After our disappointing performance at Silverstone we have to turn things around at the Nurburgring. Thats something we owe our many fans who always come to the race here. The characteristics of the Nurburgring mean the cars tend to understeer here. The key question is: how do you set the car up to stop it pushing over the front wheels too much? That can be resolved by an optimal aero balance combined with the corresponding mechanical set-up. We will be bringing a modified version of our double-decker diffuser to the Nurburgring, and we have also made improvements on the mechanical side. Much will doubtless depend on how successful we are at getting the tyres to work.
More to follow.